A group of environmental groups launched a campaign Monday to change bitcoin’s code to reduce its energy use. This has been a significant effort over the past few decades.
Bitcoin is popular with some investors. However, its energy use has riled some environmental groups and alarmed some lawmakers. This has put the cryptocurrency in conflict with a green movement that still has some supporters on Wall Street. The campaign aims at persuading everyone involved in the cryptocurrency, from investors to miners to software developers, to make a positive change for the environment, bitcoin’s reputation, and its support.
Greenpeace USA and Environmental Working Group will run ads in media outlets, such as the
New York Times,
Politico and The Wall Street Journal highlight bitcoin’s environmental impact and advocate for change. Ripple cofounders fund the campaign
Who isn’t representing the cryptocurrency company in this endeavor? Mr. Larsen stated that he provided $5,000,000.
Some of the ads target prominent bitcoin backers like
Fidelity Investments Chief executive
There have been efforts to reduce bitcoin’s energy footprint. The Crypto Climate Accord is supported and supported by approximately 250 companies, which include miners like Hut 8 Mining Corp. Some miners, such as Easton, Md.-based
They are working to create zero-emissions operations.
The new campaign isn’t anti-bitcoin.
The campaign is being advised by the former executive director at the Sierra Club. Instead, it argues climate change has reached a critical level and bitcoin is contributing too much global warming, according to he.
He said that it is important for anyone who is in a position of responsibility to take action. It is impossible to ignore the fact that we are in a severe climate emergency.
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The goal is to persuade the bitcoin community of investors, backers to change their networks code. This would remove the proof of work mechanism that forces bitcoin miners to use a certain amount energy while processing transactions to earn rewards for newly created bitcoin. According to Mr. Brune, the change could dramatically reduce bitcoin’s energy consumption.
Bitcoins energy usage can be used as a defense mechanism to protect the network. It is open-source software, so anyone can use it. However, the network requires miners who expend huge amounts of computing power. This makes it prohibitively expensive to take control of the network. This could make it possible to create counterfeit bitcoins and erase transactions.
The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance estimates the bitcoin network consumes slightly more energy each year, 134.9 Terawatt hours, than Norway’s 124.3 Terawatt hours. The research institute claimed that bitcoin uses less energy per year than the U.S. for electricity transmission.
Some bitcoin miners have taken steps to address the problem by using more renewable energy sources to run their computers. However, Messrs. Brune & Larsen believe that this isn’t enough.
The environmental impact of bitcoin has been a concern for years. However, those in control of it have rejected any changes. Aside from the fact that bitcoin is not owned or controlled by any company, any changes to the code will require agreement of almost all the parties involved.
Although proof of work is still used by Ethereum, it is now using proof of stake. This model essentially allows for energy to be exchanged for cryptocurrency. The change, which has been delayed multiple times due to technical reasons, is expected decrease Ethereum’s electricity use by 99%. The campaign hopes to achieve a similar switch for Bitcoin.
Paul Vigna, Paul.Vigna@wsj.com
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